“Lesson 157: Moroni 8,” 2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2017)
“Lesson 157,” 2017 BoM Seminary Teacher Manual
Continuing to add to the sacred record, Moroni included an epistle, or letter, he had received from his father, Mormon. In the epistle, Mormon recorded a revelation he had received about why little children do not need baptism. Mormon also taught about how we can prepare to dwell with God. He concluded his epistle by expressing concern about the Nephites’ wickedness and their impending destruction.
Read aloud the following account told by President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Two missionaries were laboring in the mountains of the southern United States. One day, from a hilltop, they saw people gathering in a clearing far below. The missionaries did not often have many people to whom they might preach, so they made their way down to the clearing.
“A little boy had drowned, and there was to be a funeral. His parents had sent for the minister to ‘say words’ over their son. The missionaries stood back as the itinerant minister faced the grieving father and mother and began his sermon. If the parents expected to receive comfort from this man of the cloth, they would be disappointed.
“He scolded them severely for not having had the little boy baptized. They had put it off because of one thing or another, and now it was too late. He told them very bluntly that their little boy had gone to hell. It was their fault. They were to blame for his endless torment.
“After the sermon was over and the grave was covered, the elders approached the grieving parents. ‘We are servants of the Lord,’ they told the mother, ‘and we have come with a message for you’” (Boyd K. Packer, “And a Little Child Shall Lead Them,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 7).
Invite students to consider what they would have said to these parents if they had been one of these missionaries.
As students study Moroni 8 today, invite them to look for principles and doctrines that can help them in situations like this.
Explain that Moroni 8 contains a letter Mormon wrote to his son Moroni.
Invite a student to read Moroni 8:4–6 aloud, and ask the class to look for why Mormon wrote this letter to Moroni. (You may need to explain that in verse 6, the word gross means serious, shameful, or grievous.)
Why did Mormon write this letter to Moroni?
Invite a student to read Moroni 8:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Mormon did when he learned of this problem.
What can we learn from Mormon’s example?
Invite a student to read Moroni 8:8–9 aloud, and ask the class to look for the answer to Mormon’s prayer. As students report what they find, you may need to explain that the phrase “the curse of Adam” refers to Adam’s separation from God’s presence as a result of the Fall. This separation includes both physical and spiritual death. Some people mistakenly believe that every child is born in a sinful condition because of the Fall. With this incorrect idea, they think that little children are unworthy to be in God’s presence if they die without having been baptized. As you explain this, you may want to have students recite the second article of faith. You might also suggest that they cross-reference Moroni 8:8–9 with Articles of Faith 1:2.
Ask a student to read Moroni 8:10 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Mormon instructed Moroni to teach about who needs repentance and baptism.
What doctrine can we identify from verse 10 about who needs repentance and baptism? (Help students identify the following doctrine: Repentance and baptism are necessary for all who are accountable and capable of committing sin. Encourage students to consider marking the phrases in Moroni 8:10 that teach this doctrine.)
It may help to clarify that sin is “willful disobedience to God’s commandments” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Sin,” scriptures.lds.org). In Moroni 8, the term “little children” refers to children who have not yet reached the age of accountability. The Lord has said that children begin to become accountable before Him at age eight. Revelations on this truth are found in Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 17:11 (in the appendix of the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible), and Doctrine and Covenants 68:25–27.
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for how children become accountable:
“Accountability does not burst full-bloom upon a child at any given moment in his life. Children become accountable gradually, over a number of years. Becoming accountable is a process, not a goal to be attained when a specified number of years, days, and hours have elapsed. In our revelation the Lord says, ‘They cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me.’ (D&C 29:47.) There comes a time, however, when accountability is real and actual and sin is attributed in the lives of those who develop normally. It is eight years of age, the age of baptism. (D&C 68:27.)” (Bruce R. McConkie, “The Salvation of Little Children,” Ensign, Apr. 1977, 6).
Divide the class in half. Invite half of the students to read Moroni 8:11–18 silently and the other half to read Moroni 8:11, 19–24 silently. (You may want to write these references on the board.) Before they read, ask students in both groups to look for truths Mormon taught as he explained why baptizing little children is wrong. After students have had enough time to read, invite a few from each group to report the truths they have found. List these truths on the board. Students may identify the following truths:
Little children are alive in Christ (see verses 12 and 22).
God is not a partial God (see verse 18).
God is unchangeable (see verse 18).
What do you think it means that little children and those “without the law” are “alive in Christ”? (Moroni 8:12, 22). (Little children and people who are not capable of understanding the gospel are not considered accountable. When they break or transgress a law, it is not accounted as sin, but since the law was broken, Christ’s Atonement makes the payment for the broken law. They are redeemed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. [See also Moroni 8:10; D&C 29:46–47.])
What difference might it make in someone’s life to know that little children are redeemed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ?
Why is it important to know that God is not partial, or unfair, in His desires and efforts to redeem His children?
Remind students of the account shared by President Packer that you read at the beginning of class. Invite a student to read aloud the following continuation of that account:
“As the sobbing parents listened, the two elders read from the revelations and bore their testimony. …
“The elders came as comforters, as teachers, as servants of the Lord, as authorized ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Boyd K. Packer, “And a Little Child Shall Lead Them,” 7).
Divide students into pairs, and ask them to share with their partners what they would have said to the grieving parents. Encourage them to share the truths they have learned from Moroni 8 as well as their own testimonies. (If you prefer, you could invite one or more students to share with the entire class.)
Explain that after Mormon taught Moroni about why little children do not need baptism, he taught about why baptism is needed for those who are accountable.
Invite a student to read Moroni 8:25–26 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for blessings that come to people who exercise faith, repent, and are baptized.
What blessings come to those who exercise faith, repent, and are baptized? (As students report what they have found, list their responses on the board. Answers may include that faith, repentance, and baptism lead to remission of sins, meekness and lowliness of heart, the visitation of the Holy Ghost, hope, perfect love, and, ultimately, the blessing of dwelling with God.)
Point out that in verse 25 we read that faith, repentance, and baptism are done “unto the fulfilling the commandments.”
Write the following principle on the board: Through faithful obedience to the principles, ordinances, and commandments of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can receive the Holy Ghost, which prepares us to dwell with God.
How does the Holy Ghost help us prepare to live with God?
Point out that Mormon explained what would happen to the Nephites because they were prideful. Invite a student to read Moroni 8:27–29 aloud, and ask the class to look for the result of the Nephites’ pride.
What did Mormon say would happen to the Nephites because of their pride?
What did happen to the Nephites?
To conclude the lesson, testify that through faithful obedience to the commandments we can receive the Holy Ghost and be prepared to dwell with God. Invite students to apply what they have learned in this lesson by continuing to have faith, repent, and live according to the covenants they made at baptism.